CTA Heritage Collection
Billing itself as "the largest street railway system in the world," the Chicago Surface Lines (CSL) managed Chicago's streetcar system from 1913 to 1947, along with several of its early bus routes. The CSL projected the image of a single, unified system though it managed several streetcar companies. Its logo was part of this unified image, which appeared on the sides of streetcars and buses, on maps, brochures and advertisements, as well as employee uniform buttons and cap badges.
Chicago Elevated Railways
In 1911, a holding company was formed to unify the individual 'L' companies and streamline management. The Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust (CER) was successful in coordinating and improving 'L' services yet it could not achieve a consistent corporate brand. The CER logo appeared on some early materials like ads and maps, but largely faded from use. Its shape is very similar to the London Undergrounds, among other commercial logos.
Chicago Rapid Transit
Chicago elevated railways were again reorganized and merged into a single corporate identity in 1924.The Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT) created a new logo and was more successful than its predecessor, the CER, in its consistent use. The CRT logo appeared on several brochures and pamphlets, ads and some employee uniforms between 1924 and 1947. It did not appear on the sides of 'L' cars or make an appearance on a map until the last years of the company's existence.
CTA Original (Orange)
In 1948, a year after the CTA assumed operation of 'L', streetcar and most bus service in Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) created the agency's first logo. Introduced in CTA's employee magazine, it was described as emphasizing modernization programs, while the "distinctive horizontal 'speed lines' express the CTA's other major objective – the building of an attractive, reliable and faster transit service." The logo appeared on maps, brochures, ads, and vehicles starting in the spring of 1948. Circa 1954, the background color was changed from orange to green.
CTA Original (green w/Metropolitan Transit banner)
In 1956, the CTA logo was changed with the addition of a "METROPOLITAN TRANSIT" banner along the top, emphasizing the CTA's regional scope of service. Several 'L' lines extended outside the city limits as far back as the early 1900s, and after CTA took over it created or extended several bus routes into suburbia as well. This logo appeared on CTA rail cars and buses, maps, pamphlets, advertisements and other documents into the 1970s, and is recognized by generations of Chicagoans.
CTA speed lines
After using a lowercase Helvetica "cta" as its logo from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, the CTA created a new logo merging elements of its past branding while looking toward the future. Adopted in 1983, the new logo used a thicker, oblique weight of Helvetica, and incorporated "speed lines" reminiscent of those from the agency's original logo. This was the agency's official logo for over 20 years, and appeared on buses, trains, signage, maps and publicity materials, uniforms and official documents.
CTA Take It!
Circa 1999, the CTA launched a promotional and marketing campaign that included a new look for advertising and informational materials, as well as a new promotional logo and tagline – "Take It!" This campaign logo was widely used and appeared on maps, brochures, posters, advertisements and gift merchandise. explore collection
In 2004, CTA introduced a new official agency logo. The new logo clarified and strengthened the CTA's identity while conveying a new, positive image. The design utilizes the red, white and blues colors associated with its buses' livery since the late 1980s, and retains the bold oblique lowercase Helvetica "cta" used in both the previous official speed lines logo and promotional Take It! logo.